Div’Apéro 3.0: Implemented and Improving
By Laura Cano
The beginning of the Div’Apéro 3.0 report was already decided even before the event had begun. Unfortunately, I cannot exactly remember the punch line anymore. It was something about how preparing a Div’Apéro requires physical training, or replaces an intense gym session. We noticed this aspect on our way to the Press Club, while burning calories by carrying all the heavy stuff. The fact that escalators in Schuman station were not working favoured our creativity. Fortunately, delicious Indonesian catering awaited us.
The morning of our third Div’Apéro, Jamaar arrives at the office with a bag of candy and a B-list version of Oreo (some cookies called Borneo—not the island that is part of three countries: Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia!). With him, suicidal nutrition can only be a sign of stress. Indeed, getting everything ready in time can be very challenging. Badges, social media buzz, registration list, name plates, banners, tombola prizes, checklist (check, check, check…) and GO!
18:00. Welcome Desk. Who’s Who?
At the Press Club, setting up the registration desk happened right away, but the planned shift schedule soon revealed itself as merely symbolic…. Luckily, all the ENAR interns were very supportive. Nidaa, Anna, Svetlana, Rita, and Silvia impress me every day with their professional skills, knowledge and commitment, as well as their optimistic energy. Once a month they also help the ENAR Foundation organise a successful and enjoyable event. They welcomed the guests of Div’Apéro 3.0 with warmth and great smiles. They are the great examples of Advocacy, Law, and Communications young professionals.
As our guests arrive, they are encouraged to look for their names on the badges. Everything is working smoothly. On the right side, Simon is taking over the counter like a cocktail waiter. On the left, Jamaar takes care of all the strange requests. All those (very few) who heard “Jamaar will take care of you” should feel lucky to have been forwarded to the best crisis management back-up; the only person I would entrust my audience if I fainted (true story…). But I am supposed to be strong and floating (Pascal’s instructions) and still I wonder: How strong shall one be in order to be light enough to float? All the strength flew away when we realized Mr. Asa Patia Silalahi’s badge was missing. Luckily, the Embassy Representatives were very cool.
The time has come for serious matters. His Excellency, Mr. Arif Havas Oegroseno, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, and Michael Privot, Director of ENAR, take their seats. They are about to try to answer the following question: How does the rise of the right-wing parties in EU impact foreign relations? This is not an easy matter. Before the Ambassador provided us with the Indonesian perspective on the topic, the audience had the opportunity to learn about his country. His Excellency gave us very interesting facts about the ethnic, cultural, religious, and language diversity within Indonesia. Did you know that Indonesia covers the same area as from the UK to Turkey or from the East to the West coast of the United States? Did you know that it has a population of 238 million people, making it the world’s fourth most populous country? “When people ask me how do we live together peacefully in Indonesia with such diversity, I believe it is probably because we have the feeling of belonging as we have built the country together”. This is, in the Ambassador’s opinion, a challenge for current and future politicians in Europe.
Michael facilitates the questions. Several hands are raised. Claire, for instance, is interested in knowing how Indonesia perspective deals with minorities other than religious ones. Another question tackles women’s rights. Indonesian public institutions work under a blind recruitment system. There few feminist movements, but there are national commissions on women’s rights.
19:45 Music Intermission
The food is served and everyone gathers around it. The Ambassador’s chef was responsible for such a banquet. Fried, delicious, and, sometimes, a little spicy, I can’t describe the delicacies further. In addition, we are granted with the most harmonious Indonesian two-instrument acoustic concert.
Simon is in charge of the camera now, so he is haunting people to take pictures for “I Vote for Diversity.” I ask him for technical support for the Ambassador’s interview, but at that moment, His Excellency is busy. I get more and more nervous waiting and rehearsing how to pronounce “Ex-ce-llen-cy” intelligibly. Nevertheless, His Excellency is not only very approachable, but open to all kinds of questions. As he had said at the beginning of the debate: “The more difficult the questions, the more excited I get.” We come up with ways of dealing with extremism. The Ambassador believes radicalization should be prevented not only by law enforcement, but by engagement, and by providing alternative views to the vulnerable population and target groups.
During the debate, he had mentioned theology as an important tool that we lack in Europe. How does this apply to the far-right in Europe? It is important to give every group the possibility to express themselves, but even more the possibility to stand up for all population’s rights. “If moderates don’t come up, the hate speech against Muslims by the far-right has the effect to radicalize also other politicians,” stated the Ambassador. Of course, hate crimes should be confronted with law enforcement.
After some time for networking that everyone made the most of, Pascal grabs the mic and the tombola results are disclosed. Ms. Oegroseno, the wife of the Ambassador, offers to be the innocent hand to pick the numbers and Simon is in charge of handing the prizes to the winners and kissing them on both cheeks. “I was the hot lady of the contest,” he said afterwards. Even in this role, Simon is very competent.
Claire’s spell showed up once again as she and her husband won the most amazing prize, a year-membership as a Friend of ENAR—consecutively. As they are already Friends of ENAR, they put it back in the drawing, giving it to Anne-Sophie (also already a Friend of ENAR), who also puts it back in the drawing, giving it to Nidaa (yet another Friend of ENAR), who in turn puts it back, giving it to Bruno. Apparently, Bruno already is a friend of ENAR, but claimed to be thrilled at having it be official—certificate and all! The time comes for the free dinner for two at Garuda Indonesian Restaurant which is granted to number 244. “I know who 244 is,” announces Pascal full of mystery. “It’s me!!!” He decides to put it back, allowing Anne-Sophie to win the coveted prize. They are probably going to go together. That’s unplanned strategy!
As we approach 21:00, the room gradually gets empty. Over 70 attendees leave the Press Club happy, with full stomachs, and a brochure on the ENAR Foundation’s upcoming activities and projects. Now, it’s time to tidy up. Banners, posters, roll-ups, badges, tables, and enigmatic chairs that can be mysteriously clipped together... Jamaar’s remaining Borneo cookies showed up just in time to cheer him up.
Thank you so much to all the attendees for your great energy, openness and mood, and for making the Div’Apéro a top evening. We are especially grateful to the Embassy for such a delightful hosting and collaboration and to Giancarlo Rocconi for taking pictures. We look forward to seeing all of you at our Next Div’Apéro on 20th March in Ghent!!! Check out our Facebook page “ENAR Foundation - Div’Apéro” for more info.